Planned tax cut for top earners ditched as PM faced threat of rebellion


Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed that the government is axing plans to give the wealthiest 1% a tax cut following a bitter backlash from Tory MPs.

Mr Kwarteng said in a tweet that the measure had become a “distraction” from his objective to grow the economy.

He said: “We get it, we have listened.”

Politics live: Major U-turn after prominent Tories speak out

The plan to scrap the 45p rate, which is paid by people who earn over £150,000 a year, was criticised as unfair amid the cost of living crisis.

It was announced in the tax-slashing mini-budget, last Friday, but would have had to go to a vote before it could be approved.

Former cabinet minister Grant Shapps, one of the big hitters in the Tory party who had publicly criticised the policy, told Sky News that it would not have got through parliament.

“There is no mathematical way MPs would go and vote for this,” he said.

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The chief secretary to the Treasury pressed on U-turn

“The policy didn’t stack up and it didn’t make sense.

“You didn’t have to knock on many doors to see how unpopular it had been.”

The tax cut was one of a series of proposals that prompted turmoil in the markets over the past week, with the pound reaching record lows against the dollar.

The chancellor and Ms Truss have spent much of the past 10 days doubling down on their plans, even in the face of criticism from the International Monetary Fund and an extraordinary £65 billion emergency intervention by the Bank of England to restore order.

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45p rate tax cut ‘didn’t make sense’

Ms Truss was expected to delay the vote on the 45p rate tax cut to buy herself more time, after Conservative MPs were told they would lose the whip (meaning they would be suspended from the party) if they voted against it.

But the rebellion grew overnight as Mr Shapps joined his former Cabinet minister colleague Michael Gove in publicly criticising the plans.

Kwarteng ‘not at all’ considering resigning

Mr Kwarteng abandoned the policy hours before he was due to tell the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham that the government “must stay the course”.

Asked where the U-turn had left his credibility, the chancellor told BBC Breakfast: “We are 100% focused on the growth plan.”

He added: “I have been in Parliament for 12 years, there have been lots of policies which, when government listens to people, they have decided to change their minds.”

Despite the blow to his authority, he said he had “not at all” considered resigning.

And he declined to apologise directly to the nation, instead telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s humiliation and contrition and I’m happy to own it.”

Moments after Mr Kwarteng confirmed the U-turn, Ms Truss tweeted: “We get it and we have listened.

“The abolition of the 45pc rate had become a distraction from our mission to get Britain moving.

“Our focus now is on building a high growth economy that funds world-class public services, boosts wages, and creates opportunities across the country.”

‘They have destroyed their economic credibility’

The pound surged higher in overnight trading on Monday as reports emerged that the government would abandon the decision to axe the 45p tax rate.

Labour pressed for Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng to back down on the rest of their tax-cutting mini-budget.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the reversal today “comes too late for the families who will pay higher mortgages and higher prices for years to come”.

Read More:
Tory MPs told they will lose whip if they vote against tax cutting plans
Truss sticks by plan but admits mistakes, and says top-rate tax cut was chancellor’s idea
Kwarteng faces calls for inquiry after attending champagne party with hedge fund managers

“The Tories have destroyed their economic credibility and damaged trust in the British economy,” she said.

“Their kamikaze budget needs reversing now.”

The Lib Dems echoed those calls, with leader Sir Ed Davey calling for the Tories to cancel their party conference and recall parliament to “sort this mess out”.

He said: “Every day it becomes clearer this Conservative government has no plan, no clue and is completely out of touch.”

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